We at Sip & Savor often blog on the importance of listening to science-based nutrition advice when developing Dietary Guidelines.  Only recommendations that are based on the totality of scientific evidence will provide real world dietary guidance that is achievable.

This point is being reinforced now by many in the nutritional sciences who warn that the federal government’s dietary advice is not always based on solid science.

Drs. Joanne Slavin, Connie Weaver and Roger Clemens, leading researchers in nutrition science and former members of the U.S. Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committees, examined how research is currently used to develop food policy.

The three researchers explained their concerns at a session of the annual Experimental Biology conference entitled National Food & Nutrition Policy: Balancing the Role of Research, Nutrition Science and Public Health. Among their thoughts:

Nutrition science is complex and there is no single perfect diet for everyone.  Slavin, a professor in the department of food science and nutrition at the University of Minnesota, stated “a healthy dietary pattern can be achieved in a variety of ways, and it's important to provide flexibility when providing dietary advice.” The Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) should be focused on nutrition recommendations and not giving policy recommendations.  “The role of the DGAC is solely to look at the science; the government is responsible for creating policy, not the committee,” Slavin said. Policy must reflect what is realistic for the general population.  Recommendations should be consistent and simple.  “It's important for researchers and governing bodies to base recommendations on sound-science, rather than emerging evidence, when evaluating a cause-effect relationship…When authoritative bodies continue to switch positions on a particular nutrient, consumers become confused by the messaging and unsure of what recommendations to follow,” said Clemens, an associate director of the regulatory science program within the University of Southern California School of Pharmacy.

We agree.  Instead of singling out “good” or “bad” foods, we encourage the Committee to seek ways to help Americans achieve moderation in their diet.  It’s all about balance.  Balancing all of the calories we consume throughout the day with how much activity we get remains the best advice.